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How to Make it as a First-Time Entrepreneur

Why Twitter Won’t Go Mainstream But Will Still Succeed

October 9, 2008 | Comments Off on Why Twitter Won’t Go Mainstream But Will Still Succeed

I’m sorry, but my “normal” friends don’t get Twitter. They got Facebook, they got YouTube.  But, when I show them Twitter, they have no idea why anyone would use it.  The few of them who are social enough to broadcast short messages like to do so privately and to their friends (i.e., Facebook status updates).  So, is Twitter done?  Not at all— it’s just getting started.  Twitter doesn’t need to worry about getting everyone to start broadcasting messages, they need to focus on making their amazing data useful to everyone else. That’s what YouTube did.  YouTube succeeded not because it got everyone to contribute videos but because it took the videos of the few and made it useful to everyone else.

A few weeks back I created a graph, based on Twitter data, that helped people determine what time they should try to eat lunch at Shake Shack.  Really simple exercise but I got emails out of nowhere from friends that have never even heard of Twitter saying they were forwarded the chart and how useful it was.

What I did learn from my experience is that making twitter data useful is difficult. It’s not structured or organized and it’s hard to imagine how Twitter will ever get it’s users to structure the data themselves (hash signs will only go so far).  In other words, Twitter needs to do it themselves or someone needs to do it for them.  Twitter is headed in the right direction, the purchase of Summize to provide a Twitter search engine was fantastic and the new Election ‘08 page is interesting but not incredibly useful.  There’s way more to be done.

In terms of practical advice for the Twitter folks, I recommend they talk to the really smart guys over at Pluribo. They are using cutting-edge artificial intelligence to summarize Amazon product reviews.  Perhaps Twitter could encourage them to focus their time on the tweets fire-hose.  Imagine typing a phrase (like the recent debate or a movie) on Twitter’s search engine and getting a summarized view of thousands of people’s thoughts — pretty interesting.

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